By Rachel Saum
For most of my life, I’ve struggled with skin problems. I was teased for having acne in elementary school, long before kids my age even understood what a zit was. I grew up believing that I had inherited oily, acne-prone skin that could not be helped. As a teenager, I spent years going to a dermatologist, trying every cream, cleanser and pill they had to offer. Some were effective for a time, but before long the skin on my face, back and chest would break out again, now a lot more dried out from the harsh medications. It was an expensive cycle and I grew increasingly frustrated and self-conscious the longer it went on.
When I was first introduced to the idea of using oil on my skin, I was skeptical – if I already had oily skin, how could this help? I was used to looking for moisturizers labeled “oil-free” and constantly tried to reduce the amount of oil on my face by blotting it with tissue. I thought that using oil would clog my pores and make my acne worse. Little did I know oil was the true nourishment that my skin had been wanting all those years. The first day that I tried applying oil to my face, my skin was soft and glowing, yet it didn’t have the usual shiny spots that normally appeared on my forehead and nose within hours of washing my face. I was amazed.
I now apply oil to my face (and the rest of my body) every day, and have seen the benefits of caring for my skin this way. The routine of applying oil in my abhyanga practice each morning calms my mind, improves my circulation and protects my skin from the harshness of the elements. Before abhyanga, I used to wash my face two times a day because I was afraid that dirt and oil would build up and clog my pores. I also applied concealer and make up to cover my acne and other so-called “flaws” so that I would look the way women in media are portrayed. Now I realize that these routines were neither helpful nor necessary. I no longer need to wash my face so frequently, because this was drying my skin. My oil glands were overactive because they were compensating for how much I dried out my skin!
With proper care and by making other changes in my diet, I don’t need to cover my skin with make up because it is naturally beautiful. I have found tremendous empowerment and peace with my own physical self in this journey to better skin.